The Time: 1:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG; Radio - 970 AM WNYM
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (0-1-0) vs. the Carolina Hurricanes (0-1-1)
The Last Devils Game: The Devils played bad up and down the lineup save for goaltender. The Flyers beat them on opening night 3-0. Here's my recap of the game.
The Last Canes Game: They visited DC to take on the Washington Capitals. While they got licked on opening night, they gave the Caps a fight all night long. They matched the Caps goal for goal, and forced the game to go to overtime. Mike Green got the game winner on a power play so the Canes lost 4-3. Here's a recap of that game by Bob Wage at Canes Country.
The Goal: Ramp up the shooting. The Devils got shut out in their first game of the season. In that game, the team's discipline was poor at best, the puck movement was atrocious, and the team was caught chasing the Flyers a lot. Those have to addressed as well. However, I think it's vital for the Devils to get some confidence in their offense. The team was lackluster at generating shots because of their puck movement problems in their first game, so the team really needs to pepper Cam Ward today with rubber. You can't score if you don't shoot, and the Devils have to do a lot better than the 20 they put on Ilya Bryzgalov on Saturday.
I have a few more thoughts on tonight's game after the jump. Please check out Canes Country for the Hurricanes' point of view.There will be at least one significant lineup change for the Devils. As reported on Sunday by Rich Chere at NJ.com, Johan Hedberg will get his first start today. I think Hedberg will be fine, he has more than enough experience to come in and start off cold. He can't possibly be worse than his first start last season. Still, it seems a little odd to give him the start today since Brodeur played well against the Flyers. Peter DeBoer wants to give the Moose an early start I suppose.
That's exactly what the Canes did in their first two games, come to think of it. The Canes had Cam Ward start their first game and started Brian Boucher two days later against the Canes. According to this report by Chip Alexander at Canes Now, head coach Paul Maurice plans to start Ward today. Ward will be looking to bounce back from an opening night nightmare against Tampa Bay.
The Canes in general will be looking to get their first win this afternoon. They got pasted 5-1 by the Bolts and then lost in overtime to the Caps 4-3. The second game should be certainly be seen as a step forward, so I'm sure the Canes will be looking take it up another level today. Two Canes in particular will be particularly dangerous. Jeff Skinner already has a goal and three assists; and Eric Staal has two goals and an assist. Staal is a known quantity, a dynamic center who finds a way to produce regularly. Skinner was a rookie surprise last season and he's already off to a good start this season. His strong skating ability and excellent shot will give the Devils defense problems. Whoever draws these two - I believe they're on the same line - will have a handful. Beyond those two, I'd be concerned with the likes of Jussi Jokinen, Brandon Sutter and Tuomo Ruutu. They seemingly never stop on the ice and can cause further headaches. The Canes fans may want Ruutu to be more physical; but I've witnessed his skill and that's more concerning. I'm not fully discounting the rest of the Canes lineup, but those are the forwards of note from where I sit.
Going back to the Devils, as Chere noted in this post at NJ.com, DeBoer has shifted the forward lines in Sunday's practice. Let's go over that, as there's a lot to cover. Jacob Josefson is back to where he was in preseason, centering Ilya Kovalchuk and Nick Palmieri. I'm not sure this will help all that much. A different center is not going to make Nick Palmieri more visible; that's going to be up to Palmieri. In this post by Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice, Kovalchuk says he wants to work harder. I'm fine with that, but I'd prefer if he works smarter by cutting down on the turnovers and situations where he has no options. On the flip side, I'm pleased to see Mattias Tedenby lined up in a unit with Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson. Tedenby was shifted around the lines in Saturday's game and never really got going. He shouldn't be with the likes of Eric Boulton and Brad Mills anyway (sorry, Adam Henrique). He'll add some speed along side Zubrus, who is likely the most rusty since he had all of one preseason game, and Clarkson, who could stand to be more selfless with the puck and calmer with his temper. The top line remains, which I'm fine with - for now. I hope they don't have too much trouble with Joni Pitkanen, Carolina's big minute man on defense (think Andy Greene but bigger and with more offense).
On defense, there haven't been any changes. Perhaps that's for the best. Andy Greene and Adam Larsson weren't too miserable, so I can see them staying together. I'd have to hope Mark Fayne will be much better today, and if anyone's going to help him out the most, then it's likely going to be his most common partner, Henrik Tallinder. I expect the same blueline with the forwards used in practice will start for the Devils this afternoon.
In general, I do hope the Devils will put on better performance against Carolina. Now that they have one game under their collective belts and DeBoer made a point of it to stress down-low play and cutting down turnovers in general, I expect everything to be sharper. I expect the Devils to chase less and drive more plays. I certainly expect fewer penalties by New Jersey; as they really undercut them against Philadelphia. Should the puck movement improve with all of that, they'll have a shot at hitting the goal I have for them in this game - which will yield actual goals. The Canes won't make it easy, of course.
Those are my thoughts in advance of today's game. What are yours? What do you think will be the key for the Devils in order to get a win? Who on the Devils do you think will have a big game? Does anyone on the Hurricanes concern you outside of Staal and Skinner? Do you think the Devils will get their first win of the season today? Will you even go to today's game, even though it's not really a holiday for most people (thanks, NHL)? Please leave your answers and other thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading.